“Rapping with a Rapper.”
For the last few years, in light of the emergence of the Black Lives Matter movement, then the arresting images from Ferguson, MO, rappers have created songs that rap not about wealth or sex but about the wave of repression and resistance experienced by young black people.
Songs like “Hands Up” by Uncle Murda, “Sole Survivor” by Young Jeezy and Akon, “Cops Skit” by Black Rob, and “Stay Woke” by Meek Mill could be headlines from today’s newspapers. They’re sonic, musical signs of the times, of times that are not well in America.
A rapper called Young Chris has been inspired by the rapper Meek Mill to join the call for an end to mass incarceration and has even used some audio by me to make his points. Young Chris, speaking of Meek and other influences, explains diving into this arena.
“However, what he is doing has educated me. My best man Bird is currently serving a sentence of life without possibility of parole for something he didn’t do. So that was all the influence I really needed to speak on these matters. I feel like I had to become his voice along with many others that are facing a similar situation. Free Bird!”
I asked Young Chris why so many rappers refuse to address such issues in their work. Young Chris:
“In my opinion, I don’t think they’re outright refusing to discuss these serious matters. They’re just sleep because it didn’t hit home. I once was sleep until injustice had blanketed my best man. We as a community have to do better.”
I mentioned to Young Chris seeing Meek speak out against mass incarceration on the nationally syndicated show Ellen.
Young Chris responded: “That was big to get his story out on Ellen. We need as much attention to the injustices that has riddled our brown and black communities along with the white underprivileged. For years, I’ve known Meek since he was a young teenager, and I’ve always felt he was special.”
If you’re a hip-hop head, you may remember the duo known as Young Guns, which did a piece called “Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop” over a bit played by Heavy D called “Overweight Lovers in the House.” The song, recorded by Rockefeller Records, hit number 10 on the Billboard charts and ran for 29 weeks.
Well, Young Chris was half of Young Gunz with Hanif Muhammad as the other half. His message for hip-hop? We just have to speak for the voiceless, Young Chris said, adding, speak up and speak out.
From imprisoned nation, this is Mumia Abu-Jamal.
These commentaries are recorded by Noelle Hanrahan of Prison Radio.